Former Liverpool FC playmaker Philippe Coutinho Photo: The Sport Review

Paul Merson has warned Liverpool FC that they have taken a big gamble by allowing Philippe Coutinho to leave the club in the January transfer window.

The Brazil international finally completed his big-money move to Barcelona last week after having been relentlessly linked with a move to Anfield over the last few months.

Coutinho was heavily linked with Barcelona last summer but he only completed his move in January after the Spanish club returned with a bid believed to be worth as much as £145m.

It now remains to be seen whether Liverpool FC will look to try and bolster their squad in the January transfer window with a direct replacement for Coutinho or wait until the summer.

However, former Arsenal star Merson feels that the Reds have taken a considerable risk by letting the 25-year-old Brazilian leave the club at this stage of the season.

Writing in his column for the Daily Star, Merson said: “If they don’t replace Philippe Coutinho, it could cost them their Champions League place.

“It’s a massive gamble, to let Coutinho go at this stage of the season, and they could live to regret it unless they sign a top replacement this month.

“But who can they get who is anywhere near as good? There aren’t that many around, especially in January, and everyone knows they’re rolling in money now. Prices go up.”

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